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African Immigrant Turned U.S. Marine Screens War Documentary Sunday

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Folleh Tamba

Folleh Tamba was born in the United States, but was sent to live with his grandmother in Africa before he turned one year old. His parents returned to their native continent several years later, and Tamba and everyone he loved found themselves in the middle of civil war in Liberia.

"During the civil war, most of my friends were killed," Tamba says. He saw people shot on the way to refugee camps and witnessed people starve to death once they arrived.

It was a violent, hopeless time, but the arrival of U.S. Marines changed everything, he says.

"So when the Marines showed up, everything stopped," he says. "I remember the women in the street -- there's this garment that they wear -- putting it on the floor for the Marines to walk on."

Thanks to the peace the Marines restored, Tamba was able to get to the U.S. embassy and emigrate to Chicago. He was 17. After high school and college, Tamba decided to enlist.

"I want to be the guy that takes the gun and fights for something," says Tamba, who still lives in Chicago.

Several tours later, he has been awarded a Purple Heart for after being wounded in combat in Iraq, and produced and directed two documentaries about war. The second, "Line of Departure," will screen in the G.I. Film Festival Sunday evening. The festival wraps up on Sunday.

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